St. Louis Rams Free Agency: Grading Every Move the Rams Have Been Involved in
The St. Louis Rams entered the offseason with 15 unrestricted free agents, but they refused to retain even one of those players.
There's not exactly a surplus of can't-miss talent on a team that finished with a 2-14 record, but the massive deportation of players certainly leaves a sizable void on the roster nonetheless.
With so many open roster spots, it was clear that head coach Jeff Fisher and Co. planned a total makeover of the team, and this year's free-agency period has given the fans their very first glimpse at the brand new St. Louis Rams.
So far, Fisher has attempted to sign player who are not only capable of being leaders but who also fit in with the new offensive and defensive schemes.
Let's take a look at every free-agent signing and evaluate each move with a letter grade.
Note on Grading System
Each player will be graded on a 1 to 10 scale in three different categories, which will determine the letter grade.
The three categories are "Blockbuster", "Cost/Value" and "Need."
"Blockbuster" is determined by the player's name recognition and popularity as perceived by the fans and the media. It's not terribly important, but big-time players are well known for a reason.
"Cost/Value" is determined by the amount of the player's contract and the amount of overall production expected from the player.
"Need" refers to the player's position and whether or not the team is desperate for talent at that particular position. Considering the lack of talent on the Rams, most players will score well in this category.
Cortland Finnegan, CB (From Tennessee Titans)
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Cortland Finnegan was one of the more well-known and coveted players in this year's free-agency class, and he was clearly the Rams' most significant move.
The Rams had numerous cornerbacks on injury reserve last season, so there was clearly some problems with consistency at the position.
The injuries, combined with the departure of veteran Ron Bartell, created a serious need for a dominate corner.
The only downside to the acquisition was the $50 million contract, however, veteran contracts were expected to inflate as a result of the new rookie wage scale. The whole idea is that rookies now make less so that the veterans can make more, so Finnegan's contract is not as outrageous as it might seem.
Also, he's a Pro Bowl-caliber player, so there's a decent chance that he'll earn every penny when it's all said and done.
Scott Wells, C (From Green Bay Packers)
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After allowing an NFL-high 55 sacks in 2011, the Rams were in desperate need of a Pro Bowl-caliber talent on the offensive line.
Scott Wells will not only be a key piece on an underachieving offensive line, but the 31-year-old will also provide leadership for the younger linemen, as well as third-year quarterback Sam Bradford.
Wells signed a four-year deal worth $24 million, so the Rams are getting him at a very reasonable price.
However, even though the contract is acceptable, the Rams are still losing some value due to his age (31), but that's really the only negative aspect to this terrific signing.
Kendall Langford, DL (From Miami Dolphins)
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The 26-year-old Kendall Langford may not possess star power, but the Rams are getting a capable starter at an extremely desperate position (defensive tackle).
Langford is young and still has his best years ahead of him, which means he should easily be worth the four-year, $24 million contract that he signed.
Langford won't rack up multiple trips to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, but if the signing goes as planned, then he'll solidify an important position for nearly half a decade (maybe longer).
Steve Smith, WR (From Philadelphia Eagles)
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The Rams can cut Smith if he doesn't impress the team during training camp, but if he's fully recovered from his injury, then the Rams are getting a great talent at a very desperate position.
Smith is certainly worth the low-risk gamble but don't tease yourself by investing your hopes into him.
Matthew Mulligan, TE (From New York Jets)
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Matthew Mulligan is a low-end free agent who won't light up the field with big plays, but he's a capable blocker who can potentially help a struggling offensive line in St. Louis.
Mulligan signed a two-year deal for an unknown amount of money, but it's surely a minor contract.
Mulligan is familiar with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system due to their three years together with the New York Jets, so Mulligan will have a leg up in training camp and could eventually surprise some people.
However, he'll likely make a minimal impact in 2012.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LB (From New Orleans Saints)
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It's a little odd that Saints linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was signed after his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was already suspended from the Rams.
Not to overspeculate, but perhaps, the fact that they still signed one of Williams' former players, regardless of the suspension, is a sign that Jeff Fisher is optimistic about his return in 2013.
More than likely, it's just a coincidence.
However, with or without Williams, the Rams picked up a former Super Bowl champion with starting experience at a position of great need, which makes this a respectable signing.
At two years and $5 million, there's not a lot to dislike about the Dunbar signing. Although, he'll likely be more of a role player than a difference maker.